Event: To create awareness about cerebral palsy and ensure that children and adults with the disorder have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in society, Ability Bhutan Society (ABS) observed World Cerebral Palsy Day at its centre in Motithang yesterday.

More than 60 participants observed the day.

ABS chairperson, Dasho Kuenzang Wangdi said that the day is observed so that people across the globe can help to create awareness on behalf of people with cerebral palsy.

The day aims to celebrate the lives of those who are affected by cerebral palsy, and create tangible actions and outcomes that will help improve their lives, he added.

Public awareness, education, civil rights, medical and therapy, life quality and contribution are the six key areas that continue to be barriers to people with cerebral palsy and their families.

“By shining the spotlight on these areas, it is possible that one day, solutions will develop,” Dasho Kuenzang Wangdi said.

Sharing her experience, Rinzin Choden, 23, who has cerebral palsy said that she could do almost all household chores like cleaning, cooking and washing. She also is able to  read and write. “The problem that I face is when I do household works, I can’t do it in time like other people,” Rinzin Choden said. “Though we are (differently-abled), we can do whatever others can do. So never give up and try your best.”

A parent of a six-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy, Prashanti, said that her family was introduced to this neurological disorder in 2010 and life was never the same again.

She said that the challenges her son and family faces are different every year and the list keeps increasing. Her son’s education is the new challenge this year as he turns six this month.

A child in Bhutan is ready to be enrolled in school when he or she turns six-years-old and I would also want that for my child, she added. However, she doubts if the schools in Bhutan are suitable for him.

Prashanti said that her son, Siddharth, is wheelchair bound and no school in Bhutan is wheelchair friendly. She pointed out that even the national referral hospital is not completely wheelchair friendly. “I don’t expect changes overnight but we need to start somewhere,” she said. “Acceptance is all we ask for. Just accept us, disability and all and we will figure things out as we go along.”

“Sid has vision problems and we haven’t been able to get a proper diagnosis yet. He cannot grasp a pencil, he is not completely toilet trained, sudden noises startle him,” Prashanti said in a choked voice.

But Sid is also a beautiful little boy with a sunny disposition and he has a wonderfully sharp memory, she said with a smile. Prashanti said that parents of children with cerebral palsy must accept that their children are different and they are beautiful in their own ways.

“We have to nurture their strengths and raise them so that they can be independent adults,” she said. “If you want the society to accept your child, you have to accept them first.”

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that permanently affects body movement, muscle coordination and balance.

Hereafter, the day will be observed every year.

Dechen Tshomo